By Steve St. Angelo | Photography by Chris Hartlove
Research associate steps up to the challenge of improving cardiovascular care
Binu Koirala is comfortable with taking the long way. It is a patience forged in her native Nepal—on long journeys to her parents’ hometown far from the capital of Kathmandu, where Koirala grew up. Getting there meant a 90-minute flight, then the rest of the way on foot, mostly along a path no wider than 3 feet. “You walk from 1 to 8 p.m., stay overnight, and arise at 6 a.m. to begin walking again.” By 2 p.m., the destination would finally be in sight. It was, of course, a hike through picture-postcard scenery, she recalls. “It is so beautiful there.”
Nowadays, a 23-minute (less photogenic) commute from Towson to Baltimore seems a snap. And she feels at home in the city. “I love Baltimore for its cultural diversity. I can see the true uniqueness of the city’s diverse culture, from language and an array of restaurants to art and history.” Her husband, met while earning her master’s in gerontological studies in Ohio, nudged her toward Johns Hopkins. (“He said, ‘They have everything you want there. You have to do this.’ ”) And she relishes her faculty position at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing—where she recently completed her PhD.
Koirala, a 2019 finalist in Johns Hopkins University’s 3 Minute Thesis competition, focuses on cardiovascular disease in Nepal vs. the West in hopes of building a stronger foundation for heart (and palliative) care in her home country, a developing nation that has long straggled behind in funding and research. Being among the first on this path makes it even more exciting.
“I have seen that some of the health problems we are struggling with in the West are the same problems that we struggle with in the East,” she explains. “The concern and burden of cardiovascular disease, aging, and increasing multimorbidity are challenging not only to Nepal or the U.S., they are challenging globally.” Development and implementation of effective prevention and management strategies considering social determinants of health is the key.
It won’t be an easy journey. But Koirala is determined to get there.